I had the privilege of talking for three hours last Thursday 15th with Hugo Chávez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who had the gentility to once again visit our country, this time arriving from Nicaragua.
Few times in my life, perhaps never, have I met a person who has been capable of leading a genuine and profound Revolution for more than 10 years; without a single day of rest, in a territory of less than one million square kilometers, in this region of the world colonized by the Iberian peninsula which, for 300 years, ruled over a surface 20 times greater, of immense riches, on which it imposed its beliefs, language and culture. One could not write the history of our species on this planet today and overlook what took place in this hemisphere.
For his part, Bolívar did not fight only for Venezuela. Then, the waters and land were purer; the species varied and abundant; the energy contained in its gas and oil unknown. Two hundred years ago, on initiating the independence struggle in Venezuela, he did not undertake it solely for the independence of that country, he did it for all the peoples of the still-colonized continent.
Bolívar dreamed of creating the greatest republic to have existed, whose capital would be the Isthmus of Panama.
In his insuperable grandeur, the liberator, with veritable revolutionary genius, was capable of presaging that the United States – originally confined to the territory of the 13 English colonies – seemed destined to sow the misery of the Americas in the name of liberty.
One factor that contributed to Latin America’s fight for its independence was the invasion of Spain by Napoleon, whose unbridled ambitions contributed to create the opportune conditions for the beginning of the independence struggles of our continent. The history of humanity is sinuous and full of contradictions; in its turn, it is becoming constantly more complex and difficult.
Our country speaks with the moral authority of a little nation that has resisted more than half a century of the brutal repression foreseen by Bolívar on the part of that empire, the most powerful to have ever existed. The immense hypocrisy of its politics and its scorn for other nations has led it into very grave and dangerous situations. Among other consequences are the daily evidences of cowardice and cynicism, converted into quotidian practices of international policy, given that the overwhelming majority of honest persons on Earth have no possibility at all of making their opinions known, or of receiving reliable information.
The policy of principles and honesty with which the Cuban Revolution has always presented correct decisions and errors – and, particularly, certain standards of conduct never once violated in more than 50 years, such as never torturing any citizen – has no exception whatsoever. In the same way, it has never yielded to coercion and media terrorism. These are historic facts that have been more than demonstrated. This is a subject that could be widely discussed; we note it now simply to explain the reasons for our friendship with and admiration for Bolivarian President Hugo Chávez, a subject on which I could considerably extend myself. On this occasion, suffice it to quote some elements in order to explain why I affirmed that it constitutes a privilege to converse for hours with him.
He had not yet been born when the assault on the Moncada Garrison took place on July 26, 1953. He was less than five years old at the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959. I met him in 1994, 35 years later, when he had passed his 40th birthday. Since then I have been able to observe his revolutionary development over close to 16 years. Gifted with exceptional talent and an insatiable reader, I can testify to his capacity for developing and deepening revolutionary ideas. As is the case with all human beings, chance and circumstances played a decisive role in the advance of his ideas. He has a notable capacity for remembering any concept and repeating it with incredible precision a long time afterward. He is a veritable maestro in the development and divulgation of revolutionary ideas. He possesses a domination of them and the art of transmitting them with astounding eloquence. He is totally honest and sensitive in relations to people and extremely generous by nature. He does not need praise but, on the other hand, is accustomed to lavishing it. When I am not in agreement with some of his points of view or any decision of his, I simply transmit that with sincerity, at the appropriate moment and with due respect for our friendship. On doing so, above all, I take into account that he is currently the person of greatest concern to the empire, given his capacity to influence the masses and because of the immense natural resources of a country that has been plundered without mercy, and a person at whom it is striking with all rigor in an attempt to reduce his authority. Both the empire and the mercenaries in its service, intoxicated by lies and consumerism, are once again running the risk of underestimating him and his heroic people, but I do not harbor the slightest doubt that they will once again receive an unforgettable lesson. More than half a century of struggle indicates that to me with all clarity.
Chávez carries dialectics within himself. Never, in any period, has any government done so much for its people in such a brief space of time. It especially pleases me to transmit to his people warm congratulations for the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the struggle for the independence of Venezuela and Latin America. Chance had it that the 19th of April also commemorates the victory of the Revolution against imperialism in Girón [Bay of Pigs], exactly 49 years ago. We wish to share that victory with the homeland of Bolívar.
It gives me equal pleasure to greet all the brothers and sisters of ALBA.